Posts tagged may2012
Potato coleslaw

It’s all ‘red white and blue’ everywhere you look! Any one would think there was a celebration coming up…!

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is a pretty big deal, it’s not every day that comes around, plus we all get an extra days bank holiday! That said, I have been a little slow on the uptake and my patriotic baking creativity hasn’t really happened…but I may have a little something up my sleeve for Tuesday (the day of the Jubilee itself) but you’ll have to wait for it. Plus I will have another reason to celebrate on Tuesday…you’ll have to wait for that too.

In the mean time I thought I’d share some patriotic baking of another kind….these cakes were baked and decorated by the kids my mum looks after (she’s a childminder), I think the iced tops were supposed to resemble Union Jacks….not so much, but still pretty cute!

Yesterday's dinner time was a good opportunity to see what the garden had to offer. My mum wanted to dig up some of the potatoes she’d planted to see if they were ready. 

Um, that will be a no then....

I posted this photo via Instagram on twitter yesterday, so some of you may have seen it there.  I have recently joined Instagram, and the link to my profile is now added to the top of the page so please come and find me!

I had originally planned a potato salad with homemade mayonnaise, but due to the potatoes being less plentiful than hoped for, I made a potato coleslaw of sorts which was pretty good with great texture. I had no cabbage to hand so once i’d cooked the baby potatoes and coated them with the mayonnaise, I grated some raw carrot and courgette over the top and mixed it through.

A lovely simple side dish. This would be great served up with these burgers!

Whether you are celebrating or not, I hope you have a great weekend…I hope the Queen does too!

Recipe: Vegan Mayonnaise

Makes ¾ cup

Ingredients

  • ½ raw cashews (or 1/3 cup cashew butter)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup soy milk (I imagine water would also suffice)
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch ground cayenne or parika
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Method

Grind the cashews along with the garlic to a paste (or use cashew butter). Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth and creamy.

Stores in the fridge in a covered container for up to 3 days.

For potato coleslaw, coat boiled new potatoes with the mayonnaise and stir through raw grated carrot and courgette. Sprinkle with fresh herbs or seasonings if desired and serve immediately.

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Maple pecan ice cream

Up until now I hadn’t tried my hand at ice creams…or any form of frozen desserts. But all that may be about to change…! I already have few ideas up my sleeve and a few tests underway. So first up ice cream!

This last week summer has been in full swing (I hope I haven’t just jinxed it) and I could no longer ignore the urges for some ice cream. There is something about ice cream that really is the epitome of summer, and it also makes you feel 10 years old again!

I debated long and hard about the flavour choice and the ingredients to form the base of this ice cream. I had thought about going for a traditional vanilla, but then had second thoughts that maybe such a ‘simple’ flavour may be deceivingly difficult to pull off. Bearing in mind I had never tasted vegan ice cream…neither shop bought or home-made, and also I don’t have an ice cream maker.

So, I settled on a banana and cashew combo for the base, to create a really creamy ice cream with a subtle hint of banana rather than a full on banana flavour. Through my extensive research into homemade vegan ice creams I came across a recommendation to add raisins to achieve a really buttery texture, hence why they’ve also been added here, also for the additional natural sweetness.

The maple syrup and pecans provide the dominant intensity of flavour. The key is to blend everything really well to achieve the full on creamy effect that these ingredients offer. I kept the pecans chunkier for extra texture. I froze the ice cream in ice cube trays, to pop out and blend again just prior to serving, this achieves the creamiest consistency without the need for an ice cream maker. The ice cube trays are also great for making mini servings to melt over pancakes or desserts, or insert a toothpick for a mini frozen lolly!

I served mine on bed of chocolate shavings over my newly created ‘speediest sponge ever’….recipe to come shortly!

Recipe: Maple pecan ice cream

Makes approx. 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup cashew butter
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup soy milk (or other alternative milk)
  • ½ cup pecans (or walnuts although they are more bitter)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

In a food processor add the banana, nut butter, tahini and raisins and blend to form a paste. Add all remaining ingredients and blend together to break up the pecans into smallish pieces. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze

For best results re-blend the frozen chunks briefly and re-freeze to desired consistency to serve.

Alternatively, freeze in one container and remove from freezer 10 minutes prior to serving to slightly soften- note resultant ice cream may not be as creamy as above method.

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Cinnamon challah

Hello, hello…. A second post on a Sunday? Ah, but it’s the Daring Bakers reveal date and this month’s challenge was Challah bread. A new experience for me!

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Right, let me tell you one thing. Nothing went smoothly for me in this challenge. First settling on which recipe to use caused me much deliberation (ok, well that’s not exactly unusual). I had the usual task of veganizing the recipe, which it itself was not too tricky as suggestions had been given and I found quite a lot of additional inspiration from other recipes already out there (I looked at too many to name specific resources!)

Then came the debate as to how to actually make the challah. I have a Thermomix and in the Thermomix cookbook there is a specific Challah bread recipe. So, was I to go with the more traditional kneading/rising  methods and times suggested in the Daring Bakers Challenge and elsewhere  online, or was I to go with the Thermomix method (a swifter process).

So I went with the Thermomix method. In hindsight that was probably a mistake as I had no gauge against others results and it required more guess work in translating my ingredients to their (simple) method and that therefore meant more room for things going awry!

My first stumble: I killed the yeast (oops!) I added it to milk that I warmed just a little too much. Move onto second trial where I didn’t add the yeast to the liquid prior mixing.

My second stumble: On to my second attempt and it all went smoothly until the point at which I had to braid. I prepared a 4-strand braid and then realised I had no clue how to create a braid with 4 strands …ha ha! The stands got a bit stretched and mauled whilst I figured it out…I got there in the end*

My third stumble: Without having the option of using egg wash for the surface, I went for a soy milk with brown rice syrup combo. This was ok I principle I think, but I’m not sure whether it contributed to the over-browning of the top.

My fourth stumble: The cookbook I used stated bake for 20 minutes at 220C. I checked after 15 and it was very much done! I took it out at this point and it was saved…but had I left it longer….

My fifth (and final) stumble: I had added a ‘sweet cinnamon butter’ centre to the inside of each strand. I had high hopes for a lovely swirly effect when I cut into the loaf. Hmmm…not so much..it was barely noticeable.

Anyway, it was a good learning experience…and for the all the things that ‘challenged’ me there were plenty of good bits too…

The good bits:

Using the banana as a binder (instead of an egg) worked really well and assisted with the light sweetness. The addition of cinnamon and coconut sugar was delicious. I learnt how to braid with 4 strands…and you know what…

Most importantly, the bread tasted YUMMY! Yes, I said it tasted yummy…perfect when lightly toasted with a mug of tea. Let me tell you I sure needed that mug of tea!

Please feel free to have a go yourself…here is a link to the original Daring Bakers Challenge, which may assist with the process and also give other ideas for ingredients and tips above and beyond my own.

Recipe: Cinnamon challah Bread

Ingredients

  • 400g mix of white and wholegrain spelt flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 sachet instant yeast
  • 200g warm soy milk (or water)
  • 1 banana
  • 30g coconut oil
  • 20g coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • To glaze- approx. 3tbs soy milk plus ½ tsp brown rice syrup, extra coconut sugar for sprinkling
  • Filling- (optional) 3tbs melted coconut butter, 1tbs cinnamon 2 tbs agagve syrup

Method

Add all ingredients to the Thermomix and mix for 20 seconds/speed 3.

Knead for 2 mins of the dough setting. Remove the dough and place ina  large oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour.

On a flour surface, remove the dough and punch it down. Divide into 4 equal portions and roll each piece into a long sausage shape approx. 40cm long.

For a filled bread- i.e cinnamon as I have done or an alternative sweet or savoury filling, flatten the strands and add a line of filling before pinching together to seal into a thick round strand.

Press the 4 ends together and loosely plait the length of the strands before pressing the ends together to complete the braid. Form into a circle if you wish

Allow the challah to rise for approx. 30 mins and pre-heat the oven to 220C (based on my experience I would now suggest 200C I would also suggest a longer rising time of 1 hour).

Brush the bread generously with the soy milk/syrup glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes  or until the glaze is golden (keep a close eye to prevent burning).

*for a 4-strand braid, think of the 4 strands in two pairs. Cross the inner strands first (one from each pair) and then cross both of the outer stands individually (each pair), repeat the procedure with the inner strands (which will now be the other strand of each pair) then repeat with the pairs…..does that make sense. Basically you are just crossing the inners and then both outers in repetition. If you’re still confused…Google it like it did! 

 Flattened strand recieving its filling

 Flattened strand recieving its filling

barely there cinnamon butter swirls!

barely there cinnamon butter swirls!

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Green Smoothie Challenge- revealed!

You may recall that last month I took it upon myself to undertake a 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge.

It was inspired by this post which presented the concept of trying something new for 30 days. In the spirit of discovery and self-development I went for it!

So now the 30 days are up…what have I learnt?

Did I come to love the Green Smoothie?

Well I have certainly found my preferences and have also come up with a few ideas in terms of preparation….more investigations yet to come on that.  I didn’t try a new flavour every day since I usuall made up a large pitcher and then froze two portion for following days, so roughly a new flavour combo every three days.

I quickly discover my favourite fruit mixer….mango! The intense sweetness and the high pectin content make for a super smooth smoothie capable of disguising a lot of greens! Also the yellow colour makes for a refreshingly coloured smoothie whereas red berries create more of a green sludge…not so easy on the eyes! I found that with mango I could use lots of different types of leafy greens without really noticing the difference.

This guide is also a really great resource in making your own.

Here are a selection of my smoothie combinations:

  • 2 cup spinach, 1 small banana, 2 cup frozen mango, 1 cup water
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, 1 cup water, 1 medium banana, 1 cup tinned peaches
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, handful spinach, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1 tbs cacao powder, 1 cup water
  • carrot cake smoothie
  • 2 cups lambs lettuce, ½ cup cucumber, 1 apple, 1 banana, pinch cinnamon, 1tsp maca powder, 1 cup
  • 1 large cup frozen strawberries, 2 cups spinach, ½ tsp fresh ginger, 1 large cup water (tasted odd)
  • 1 cup fresh mango, 1 ½ cup mixed greens, 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mango, 1 cup apple, 1 cup lambs lettuce, 3 romain lettuce leaves, half an avocado, 1tbs maca powder, 2 cup water, ½ cup apple juice
  • 1 cup spinach, 3 leaves romain lettuce, 1 stick celery, 1 apple, 1 banana, ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup spinach, 5 basil leaves, ½ cup blueberries, 1 tbs cashew butter, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp carob powder, 1 cup water, 6 dates (tasted horrible)
  • 1 cup mango, 1 large cup spinach, ¼ cup cucumber, ¼ cup orange juice, 1 cup water, 4 large fresh mint leaves (best flavour)
  • 1.5 cups spinach, 1tsp coconut oil, 1tsp maca powder, 2 tsp cacoa powder, 1 tsp super greens powder, ½ cup blueberries, ¼ cup strawberries (based on this shake)
  • 1 orange peeled, ½ mango, 1 scoop hemp protein powder, 1 tbs ground flax or chia, 2 cups mixed greens, ½-1 cup water (hemp powder was gritty- see note below)

(they all make anywhere between 1 and 3 glasses worth)

    Key things I discovered:

    Using red berries turns the smoothie a sludgey dark colour, using banana/apple/mango keeps it a lighter green  colour. If using berries (Particularly blue berries) add cacao/carob so that it looks chocolatey and not sludgy.

    Celery and cucumber  and mint leaves were refreshing additions.

    Fresh mango is my favourite fruit mixer, fresh is much better than frozen as it has a sweeter stringer taste.

    Apple makes the smoothie a bit frothy, not my preference as it isless smooth than banana/mango on its own.

    Fruits with a high soluble fibre content work best at creating a smooth consistency. Use mango, peach kiwi or banana.

    Really cold smoothies make the taste of the greens much less noticeable

    I had a play with combining proteins, fats and superfood powders in my shakes. The protein just didn’t work for me as I found it gritty. I have since had an idea of a simply recipe that would provide for the fats and proteins separately so the smoothie can be drunk in its pure and simple state. More on that to come!

    So the ‘Citrus Mango Cooler’ has become my ultimate smoothie combination:

    • 1 cup mango
    • 1 large cup spinach
    • ¼ cup cucumber
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 large fresh mint leaves (mint is optional but extra refreshing)

    This is also great frozen and then served as a granita…more on that to come too!

    So am I going to keep it up? Well I have a few more experiments up my sleeve…. I wouldn’t necessarily continue with a daily smoothie in its current form, partly due to cost since that amount or organic fruits and veg consumed each day soon adds up! I will keep you posted. 

    In the mean time if you are not already a Green Smoothie convert…give it a try and find out you own favourite combinations. What have you got to loose?

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    Mini picnic quiche

    The sun is shining, summer is here ….and it’s BBQ time!

    Sunshine always gives me the feel good factor, but today just didn’t feel quite right. You know sometimes you just get those days when you feel a bit bummed out, sometimes there’s a logical reason and sometimes there’s not.

    Sometimes I just feel lonely. There have been a few things playing on my mind recently, and at times like that I am reminded of the downside to ‘doing things differently’ and not simply following the crowd without questioning.  I haven’t got anyone to turn to in the same way as I did before and I have no-one that truly understands me anymore, I mean I’ve barely begun to understand myself yet!

    I will never regret going down the paths I have taken, and the ways in which my life has changed, but sometimes I wish, just for a few moments, I didn’t have to think, I could just be and go with the flow and not worry about the consequences or what will become. I sometimes wish someone else could make the decisions and just tell me what to do…working it all out for yourself is mighty hard! But I also know it’s the only way to truly live the life you want.

    Well, that’s enough of all that philosophical talk. That’s what happens when it’s silly late at night and I’m tired…but determined to get the post written up before going to sleep!

    It’s been a hot sunny day…happy happy happy. And I am happy, really, life is good. I’m just having a silly moment.

    So let’s talk BBQ’s, since this evening’s dinner was a cosy little BBQ at my friend’s house. I took along a couple of things to add to the food collection.

    Guess which one was mine?

    If you read this post you may have guessed!  Yep it was the black bean beet burger towards the back. Looks pretty authentic though, right?

    I also made a few mini quiches to share. These mini's are perfect for BBQ's or picnics. The recipe was prety much identical to this quiche recipe, but this time without a crust and served cold as mini snack bites, so they seemed totally different; the perfect light bite. This is such a simple recipe and I have provided it again below. I would strongly recommend silicone mini muffin pans as this will make it easier to pop the quiches out. Also allow the quiches to fully cool before handling them as I also found it a little more difficult to remove from the pan whilst still warm (I was in a rush to get to the BBQ so couldn't wait for as long!)

    In typical Bristish style the sun began to set and the breeze got up just as we sat own to eat. It was a little on the chilly side, after having been so hot all day, so as soon as we’d eaten we cosied up inside for an evening of girlie chat.

    Recipe: Mini picnic quiche

    Ingredients:

    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • ½ cup chickpea flour
    • 1 tbs potato starch (or other starch)
    • 3 tsp nutritional yeast
    • 1 tsp mustard
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ tsp mixed herbs
    • pinch paprika
    • Large pinch baking powder
    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1 cup water
    • Veggies- I used ½ grated courgette, 1 small pepper diced, 1/3 cup  each sweetcorn and soy beans. Feel free to use whatever other veggies you have to hand, ensuring you chop the pieces small enough.

    Method:

    In a medium bowl whisk together the ingredients, other than the water. Once a smooth paste is achieved add the water and whisk again until smooth. It should be about the consistency of pancake batter and have no lumps.

    Pour the batter into mini muffin pans filling them  half way. Add the vegies equally between each muffin pan.

    Bake for approx. 30 minutes, until the filling appears well set and pulls away from the side of the muffin tray. Let cool in tray before removing.

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    Pesto cabbage and chickpea soup

    This is a red soup, a very red soup indeed! 

    As much as I love this soup and could eat it every day, sometimes I have the urge to change things up a little and so today this is my new soup concoction.

    I used a red onion and a red cabbage which gives the deep rich hue, but I imagine this would also work fine with white cabbage. The key ingredient in this soup is pesto. I used my homemade pesto but you could use any vegan pesto (or regular pesto if vegan is not a priority).

    This soup is super simple to throw together, and allows for plenty of variation with choice of beans and cabbage type if you don’t have the ones I used to hand. I love using chickpeas in soups as they have a lovely unique bite to them, more so that other beans in my opinion, but that’s just me so feel free to go for your favourite. Or use red kidney beans for a truly red delight!

    This makes for a lovely light lunch or a more hearty evening meal served with bread, cous-cous or quinoa. You could even try this chilled on a hot summers day!

    The sun has finally decided to come out here and I am going to make the most of it! I have a few ‘summer’ recipe ideas up my sleeve for the coming days…and hopefully a few days of reading in the sun will be on the cards for this weekend. Yay!

    I hope the sun is out wherever you are too!

    Recipe: Pesto cabbage and chickpea soup

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 2tbs olive oil
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 carrot- grated
    • 1 small courgette- grated
    • ½ head red cabbage- chopped/sliced
    • ¼ cup vegan pesto (I used my homemade version)
    • 1 can chopped tomatoes
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
    • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • ¼ cup pine nuts (or crushed cashews as I used)
    • Handful fresh basil

    Method

    Heat oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions for 2 minutes. Add the pesto, grated carrot, courgette and cabbage and sauté for another 3 minutes.

    Add the tomatoes, dried herbs and stock and simmer for around 15 minutes until softening. Add the chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes.

    Mix through the basil and nuts just before serving. Serve with a swirl or soy yoghurt or cream if desired.

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    Apple oat bites

    Oats never go away from my blog for long do they! It’s because they are always on my mind. Such a healthy, substantial, cost effective, simple, versatile ingredient…I truly believe oats are what make the world go round!

    Oats are my breakfast every day, snacks in between on other days and occasionally dinner (when all I need is a quick post-gym snack). So when I need a quick and simple 2-minute breakfast, often the answer lies in my oats.

    This recipe concept is based on my regular breakfast apple oats’ merged with the amazing breakfast cookieLast weekend, to shake things up a little instead of eating my regular oats as a very liquidy mix in a bowl, I reduced the liquid content right down, added some shredded coconut (for good measure) and then packed the mixture into a mini silicone muffin pan to cook them up. By the way, the mixture also tastes great pre-cooking…yes I was very hungry at that point and so very tempted to eat it all…but then I wouldn’t have any recipe for you!

    Quick recap on the apple oats theory. I always grate a whole apple to mix through my morning bowl of oats for four reasons- it's a great way to get an extra portion of fruit in your day, it gives a subtle sweet taste without the need for additional sugar, it is fairly neutral so can easily accommodate other mix-ins to jazz things up, it bulks up the size of my breakfast without needing to add more oats so offers a great balance between being substantial and light.

    The apple base mix is great…but what about the add ins. It’s always all about the add ins, that’s what brings sunshine and smiles to my day, amongst other silly things that make me smile….like a cat on it tiptoes drinking out of the bird bath (spotted this morning!)

    So I spent a little extra time putting together a few simple flavour combos to get you started- the key thing for me is that they shouldn't take more than a minute to prepare since this is a speedy breakfast after all.  I also ran a test for microwave vs oven. I found the only real difference to be that the oven gave a dryer ‘baked’ exterior where as the microwave version stayed soft on the outside. The inside of both versions were very soft and moist. Take your pick!

    You could also make a larger 'breakfast bombe' using my silicone egg poacher method.

    The photo below is a plain apple oats version with extra coconut flakes on top...still super yummy without anything more!

    This is a cheeky little 'bombe' version of the origial apple oats without mix-ins.

    This is a cheeky little 'bombe' version of the origial apple oats without mix-ins.

    Recipe : Apple oat bites

    This makes approx. 6-8 mini oat bites (or a couple of breakfast bombes)

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup regular oats
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 large apple grated
    • 2 tbs ground chia or flax
    • ½ cup preferred milk alternative
    • Approx. ½ cup total mix-ins

    Mix-in ideas: 

    • 'carrot cake' (carrot and nutmeg)
    • date and walnut
    • 'gingerbread' (fresh, ground and crystallised ginger plus mollasses)
    • maple and cacao

    ....plus pretty much anything else you can think of!

    Method

    Mix everything together and pack firmly into silicone mini muffins trays (silicone for easy removal and microwave compatibility). Microwave on full power for approx. 90 seconds until the top feels firm.

    my mix-ins of choice- I made two of each of the above listed flavour combo

    my mix-ins of choice- I made two of each of the above listed flavour combo

    basic mixture ingredients

    basic mixture ingredients

    wet basic mixture

    wet basic mixture

    oven version

    oven version

    microwave version

    microwave version

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    Carrot burgers

    These carrot burgers came about as a moment of spontaneity on my birthday evening last week. I shared these burgers for dinner with my mum, who proclaimed (after having eaten it all up) ‘oh I should have really cooked for you since it’s your birthday’, oh well….bit late now! Not that I minded, I think about food all day long and am always excited to try out something new when the idea strikes, this particular moment in time was no exception…birthday or not!

    I’d had a pretty full on day…well, with the birthday cake under my belt (er, quite literally) I was in the mood for more of a light bite in the evening, so I served these burgers with salad and a simple tahini sauce. The perfect balmy summer dinner (balmy summer…I wish!) You could serve with a side of couscous for a more substantial meal.

    The other great thing about these burgers is that they are pretty quick and simple to throw together and I’m pretty sure they could be frozen, although I haven’t tried. Add in your own favourite blend of spices, I used a cajun mix for a warm Mexican kick. I have also used red palm oil (as I like the deep yellow colour it gave to coat the burgers, but other oils would be absolutely fine. I like to add beans to things…most things, sweet or savoury! Beans or chickpeas give great texture, act as a binding ingredient and provide a good source of protein, so are a great base for many burgers.

    If you have a thing for burgers, these recipes might also take your fancy:

    carrot+burger+2.jpg

    Recipe: Carrot burgers

    Makes approx. 6 burgers (depending on size)

    Ingredients- burgers

    • 300g carrots
    • 200g chickpeas
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 tbs tahini
    • 1 tbs ‘spices’ (I used a Cajun mix)
    • Extra salt to taste
    • 50g oatmeal
    • 1 tbs chia or flax plus 2 tbs hot water
    • 1 tbs red palm oil (or other oil) for frying

    Ingredients- tahini sauce

    • 50g yoghurt of choice (or cashew yoghurt as I used)
    • 2 tsp tahini
    • 2 tbs lemon juice

    Method

    Coarsely chop the carrot and onion in a food processor and then add the chickpeas, tahini and spices and roughly mash through. Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan and cook for approx. 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

    Once cooked, stir through the oatmeal and gelled chia/flax mixture. The mixture should be sticky but firm, if too sticky add a little more oatmeal. With wet hands form flat burger patties and fry them in a lightly oiled pan for a few minutes on each side until golden.

    For the tahini sauce, mix all ingredients together well in a small bowl.

    Drizzle burgers with tahini sauce and serve immediately.

    carrot+burger+1.jpg
    carrot+burger+3.jpg
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